Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

The crossbow machine is one of many contraptions envisioned The crossbow machine is one of many contraptions envisioned and drawn by the original Renaissance Man, Leonardo DaVinci.Credit Creative CommonsEdit | Remove

In this encore presentation of Central Standard: What does it mean to be a "Renaissance Man" today? Hint: it's more than being an expert multi-tasker. 

Guests:

Charlotte Street Foundation

Rodolfo Marron is an artist who grew up in the 1990s, on Kansas City's West Side. It was a grittier place back then, he says. For an escape, he started creating characters who inspired him. Now, he draws on Kansas City stories and the materials that grow wild in backyards and along highways.

Guest:

Wikipedia

Does the Kansas we see in The Wizard of Oz have anything to do with the Kansas on this side of the rainbow? From tornadoes to costumes to politics, we explore the different interpretations of this classic American film.

Guests:

Aleksi Ollila / Wikimedia Commons

Keeping it real has its limitations.

Pretend your way out of them this weekend by encountering the ardent make-believe of ambitious air guitarists, the living legacy of a legendary animator and the unquenchable pursuit of assorted paraphernalia associated with the most famous fizzy water in the world.

Need more? Wow, you do need a break. Ready… set …pretend!

1. U.S. Air Guitar Contest

It's spring, and the sound of lawn mowers is starting to echo around town. We explore what lawns mean to us: Why do we love caring for them, and does environmental progress mean rethinking the concept of our grassy domain?

Guests:

Ian T. McFarland/Flickr -- CC

What should we do with the Missouri River and the land around it? From seeing more barges on the river to letting the area revert to nature, we dream big and explore the options.

Guests:

Tax Waver

Apr 13, 2016

You've seen them on the sidewalk outside those tax places, waving to all who pass by. Meet the man behind the Statue of Liberty costume.

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

His music has been described as “guitar and growl” and “avant-garde folk.”

He also plays a mean kazoo on his new album, Theatres.

But Nicholas St. James says that “folk” is probably the easiest way to characterize his music — with a lot of blues influence as well.

Are advanced degrees, especially in arts or humanities, a safety net when it comes to building a career? One local artist, who has several degrees but hasn't landed the ideal long-term gig, shares how she built her arts career — outside of academia.

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Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

We chat with a local musician, whose genre has been described as "avant-garde folk" and "guitar-and-growl." Plus, a live, in-studio performance.

Guest:

Mike Licht/Flickr -- CC

We explore how technology has changed our relationships with our homes ... and society.

Guests:

The National Center for Arts Research

Kansas City comes in at number 19 among cities provocatively called “Hotbeds of America’s Arts and Culture” in a new report by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University.

As we're in the midst of another election season, we hear a lot about how each candidate seems "presidential." What does that word mean, and what does it say about us? An editor who publishes books about the presidency shares his thoughts.

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A Kansas City-based filmmaker talks short films, mothers-in-law and wanting to knock an obnoxious guy's chair over at a picnic. Her most recent short film, I Was a Teenage Girl, Apparently, is making its local premiere

Guest:

  • Lynn Elliot, filmmaker 

It's an animated Disney film about the first rabbit on the police force. But it also addresses issues of politics, race, gender, stereotyping and xenophobia. We hear how the politics of Zootopia mirror Kansas City, and how the first Latina columnist for The Kansas City Star relates to that bunny cop.

Guests:

How a KU professor and his students are using Google Earth to track the destruction of archaeological sites in Syria.

Guest:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Growing up, Tony Berg remembers the excitement of getting the newspaper.

"That was how we got news. I remember every day, go out to the driveway and it was like Christmas," he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

And for Berg, being the new publisher of The Kansas City Star is a dream job.

“I feel like this is my hometown and this is my hometown paper,” he said.

It was the first newspaper he ever read, and he now considers himself its ambassador. Meet the new publisher of The Kansas City Star.

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We check in on the MidCoast Takeover, a showcase of local and regional bands at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

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Steve Johnson / Flickr

Water, in three parts: Kansas City's tap water, access issues on a Kansas Indian reservation, and a local guy whose bottled water collection has grown into The Museum of Bottled Water.

Guests:

  • Elle Moxley, reporter, KCUR
  • Gaylene Crouser, executive director, Kansas City Indian Center
  • Neal Wilson, founder and curator, The Museum of Bottled Water
Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

The morning after his high school graduation, Jonathan Justus packed his car and moved to California. He didn't even wait a day, and he didn't leave with fantasies of coming back any time soon. 

When he was a kid, Justus felt suffocated by the sense that everyone in Smithville knew and kept an eye on everyone else. His mom received hate mail when she took over the family pharmacy, criticizing her for working outside the home rather than staying home with her kids. Rumors had started spreading about Justus starting when he was just in high school, he says.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

When Bruce Winter moved to Kansas City in the late 1970s, he didn’t understand why the gay clubs here didn’t have drag performances.

“The gay clubs kind of shunned it and felt like it was an insult to their masculinity or something, I don’t know,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

It is OK to talk at a live music show? And what should you do when the people around you are talking so much that they're drowning out the music?

Guests:

Lori Nix

What would the world look like without humans? In her homemade dioramas, Lori Nix, a Kansas-born artist, depicts a post-apocalyptic world where nature has taken over.

Nix's photographs of her dioramas are on display at the Kansas Focus Gallery at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. She'll be giving a talk about her work on March 24.

Guest:

It's Leavenworth, Kan., in the 1980s. Two young boys. One escaped convict. Two recently divorced parents too absorbed in their own struggles to fully supervise their children. An apartment-complex swimming pool. A mysterious new friend. 

Meet the Leavenworth-born novelist behind this vision.

Guests:

Courtesy Rebekah Winegarner

After seven hours of sitting at a computer creating a submission for Roland’s Digital Piano Design Contest, Rebekah Winegarner needed some fun. Clicking through the material menu on her industrial design software, she changed her wooden piano, shaped like a rock formation from the Utah desert, to the color of beer.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, longtime owners of the Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Brookside, are transitioning out of that business and turning their energies toward what they say will ultimately be something resembling a museum dedicated to children's literature.

But they also say it will be a place where visitors will be fully immersed in the books' narratives. 

Open Book (R)

Feb 10, 2016
Paul Andrews

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, we talk with Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner. Until recently, she was the Deputy Director of the Kansas City Public Library. Next month, she'll be heading the American Jazz Museum.

She discusses the role of the library in the 21st century, her efforts to bridge the digital divide and to archive information — as well as her dream of being a jewelry designer.

Guest:

The Enlightenment was a time marked by logical thought and a questioning of traditional authority. Among the great male minds of this period were some notable women. One in particular equaled, and often outshone, many men during the Age of Reason.

Guests:

Todd Wade / Flickr -- CC

The year is 2300 and Kansas City — as we know it — no longer exists.

The Eastern Empire — a loose federation of Chinese-led nations — has claimed the West Coast of the United States.

The refugee crisis from Americans fleeing east over the Rockies triggered a cataclysmic civil war, pitting the extremely wealthy against the extremely poor.

The very rich won, and the new nation that emerges has been restructured into a formalized, class-driven society.

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